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Thread: Burnside Carbine Question

  1. #1
    patio is offline
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    Burnside Carbine Question

    Wanting to maybe shoot a Burnside carbine purchased many years ago. Have a question concerning the breechblock. Without a cartridge the rear block which houses the nipple is against the front block.

    http://

    When a cartridge is chambered and the breechblock is closed, will the rear block move back creating a gap between the front block and rear block and move against the receiver and close the gap that was between the receiver and the rear block?

    http://

    Any good books out there on shooting the Burnside?

    Thank you very much,

    Pat
    Last edited by patio; 07-16-2019 at 07:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Jim Brady Knap's Battery is offline
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    The rear portion of the block assembly is spring loaded to the front to help with extraction of fired cartridges. This is why the chamber and cartridges are tapered. The concept is that when the block is opened the spring loaded rear portion will move forward pushing the tapered cartridge free of the tapered chamber. Works OK until things carbon up. The carbine should not be fired without a proper cartridge.
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  3. #3
    patio is offline
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    Seems to me that you would want the rear portion of the block touching the receiver when a case is in the breechblock and in battery. When the cartridge is fired, this contact would stop any rearward movement of the breechblock by the receiver. If there is no contact by the rear portion of the block and the receiver, something has to hold the block in place before the rear portion contacts the receiver when the cartridge is fired. The rear portion of the block would be driven back (forcibly?) until contact is made with the receiver. I am thinking that a correctly headspaced cartridge should push the rear portion of the block against the receiver. There should be no further rearward movement of the rear breechblock when a cartridge is in battery. If it doesn't there could be problems with split cases, a peened rear breechblock or receiver, and maybe accuracy?

    Thank you,

    Pat

  4. #4
    John Holland is offline Moderator
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    Like Jim said, the rear section is spring loaded, remove the rear breech block section and look at it. You will see that there is a cone shaped Platinum insert in the face of it. Your cartridge has to fit that contour perfectly. If it doesn't you will irrevocably damage it by firing an ill fitting cartridge. The rear section of the breech block works as a cam when the lever is pulled down after firing, by being pushed forward by the arc in the frame, which in turn breaks the cartridge case free from the tapered shape into which it sits. To remove the rear of the breech block you will have to rotate the small spring loaded piece, that holds it in place, to the left. This action will hold the spring in the compressed position thereby allowing you to slide the rear section backwards out of the breech block proper. This was part of the assembly and cleaning process for a Burnside Carbine.

  5. #5
    patio is offline
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    My observation is that the rear breach section has two purposes. The first one is that it is a "locking shoulder" that presses against the receiver and prevents rearward movement of the rear breach section when the cartridge is fired. The second purpose is what you and Jim have stated - when the breech is opened the rear breach moves forward under spring tension and it acts as an ejector to facilitate removal of the fired case.

    In my first picture, the gap between the rear breach section and the receiver is about .080". When an empty cartridge is inserted in the breach and the breach rotated into battery, I am thinking that the gap should be minimal as to restrict rearward movement of the rear breach upon firing. I am guessing that .010" would probably be the most that I would want. Less would probably be better. Any thoughts on this?

    Regards,

    Pat

  6. #6
    Jim Brady Knap's Battery is offline
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    Well said John. Also I noticed that without a proper length case the nipple will not be positioned properly under the hammer nose.
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  7. #7
    John Holland is offline Moderator
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    The movable section of the breech is supposed to bottom out against the frame when fired. The spring tension does not break the cartridge case free after firing. The case is broken free by the cam action of the frame against the movable section when the breech is opened. The spring tension is only to keep the movable section from falling out and getting lost when the breech is opened.

  8. #8
    patio is offline
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    Received some nylon cases for my carbine. Placed an empty case in the chamber and closed the action. The moveable breach moved against the receiver. There is no play between the moveable breach and the receiver now. There should be no or very little rearward motion of the moveable breach when fired. The headspace on this carbine seems to be good. Here is a picture of the empty case in battery.

    http://


    Made a cerrosafe cast of the bore at the chamber end. The casting measured .552 in diameter. Ordered a .553 dia. 390 gr Burnside mold to try. Mold should be done in 3 weeks.

    Next step will be to make a case holder that will fit a rockchucker press. Will use this holder to keep the cases steady and supported while seating wads (if necessary) and the bullet.

    This is fun stuff!
    Last edited by patio; 07-23-2019 at 01:33 PM.

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    .552 sounds awfully small, but if that's what it is, then that's what it is. Perhaps Carolina Reb will chime in here, but I was thinking .560?

  10. #10
    John Holland is offline Moderator
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    The original Burnside field mould casts a bullet which is 0.564" in diameter. The Burnside, like the Ballard, has a gain twist. Shooting a gain twist is a challenge because there will be a very narrow window of load combinations that will shoot accurately. That's my experience, anyway.

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